The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, July 24, 2015

Just Opened - July 24, 2015

Today we open up a variety of folk inspired music, from composers who were loosely inspired by folk music, to orchestrations of well known folk melodies, to and interesting chamber music group playing new arrangements of traditional eastern european music and klezmer.

Beethoven Piano Sonatas Vol. 4
Jonathan Biss, piano
ISBN# 8 89176 27996 6
International performer, speaker, instructor at the Curtiss Institute, Jonathan Biss has made a deep committment to the Sonatas of Beethoven.   This is Vol. 4 of a 9 volume set (in progress) of all the piano sonatas of Beethoven, and he has also created online courses where he details the influences, the approach, and the performance of these works.

Enigma Variations
The Wasps & Greensleeves Vars.
Kansas City Symphony
Michael Stern
ISBN#0 30911 11292 9
The Kansas City Symphony has committed to a growing body of recordings of works which are receiving critical raves.  Here they focus on British composers, in basic works which are essential elements of any growing classical music collection.

Zina Schiff, violin
Cameron Grant, piano
MSR 1493
ISBN# 6 81585 14932 4
Schiff was a protege of the great Heifitz, and has been compared to him by reviewers.   She studied at the Curtis Institute and has awards and acclaim internationally.   As Pianist for the New York City Ballet, Grant has played all the major piano ballets.  They bring a symbiosis of style and dramatic flair to their musical pairing.  The selections for this CD are all "modern" works, but not the intimidating kind, Copeland and Bloch known for their taste for tunes.

Klezmer and East European Folk Music
The Ucalgary String Quartet
arrangments by Edmond Agopian
MSR 1276
ISBN# 6 81585 12762 9
My Delight of the Week!  Our blog readers know that rarity often counts a lot with me, and the combination of free-wheeling interpretation, varied arrangements, musical comraderie and rarity make this an easy pick for me this week.  (Understanding that this will not be a favorite with the conservative classical listener who wants the tried and true concert hall greats.)  The UCalgary String Quartet is the quartet in residence at the University of Calgary.  The UCalgary String Quartet was nominated for the Instrumental Group of the Year Award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and at the Western Canadian Music Awards. The nominated recording, on the American label MSR Classics, is titled Far Behind I Left My Country – Klezmer and East European Folk Music – Arranged and Composed by Edmond Agopian. “This is music of deep-seated humanity…incredibly vivacious, sorrowful, nostalgic…performed here with affectionate understanding.” FANFARE MAGAZINE (USA)

Join us again next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just Opened - July 17, 2015

With a baseline of the Baroque music of Purcell and Festing, we branch out to new music for chamber by Maria Newman, early modern virtuoso piano show pieces played by a piano star worth knowing, and a buffet of orchestral highlights in a "sampler" CD.

The Indian Queen
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, cond.
CORO 16129
ISBN# 8 28021 61292 3
For more info., & purchase from The Sixteen's website
The musical excellence of Harry Christophers and The Sixteen (Early and Baroque, Vocal and original instrument group) is almost legendary, with perpetually glowing reviews from BBC Music Magazine, Grammophone, and even the Financial Times!  The major portion of this CD is a recording of Henry Purcell's semi-opera based on a conflict between Mexicans and Peruvian (reflecting the Baroque era's fascination with the "new world").  Purcell died young, and his brother Daniel actually completed the work, so it is fitting that the other work on this CD is Daniel Purcell's "The Masque of Hymen" reflecting another Baroque era fascination, greek mythology and the hijinx of the gods and goddesses.   With this combination of prime material and musical excellence, this CD is sure to satisfy YOUR fascination with the Baroque!

Malibu Chamber Players
MAHMR 1205201
ISBN#  7 24101 22532 1
For more information, click here.
For those who seek musical adventures, the Malibu Chamber Players have released another exploration of the new works of Maria Newman. "She writes in a highly listenable idiom, richly scored.... pleasant in harmony, assertive in style...."  D. Moore, "American Record Guide"

TUTTI Orchestral Sampler
Various Orchestras and Artists
ISBN# 0 30911 19062 0
My Delight of the Week!  If you are a listener who likes those memorable melodies from established favorite concert works, this is the CD for you.  Some folks call these "old chestnuts," but these timeless melodies are favorites that have stood the tests of time, like "The Great Gate" from Pictures at an Exhibition, the "Andante" from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, the "Berceuse and Finale" from Stravinsky's The Firebird.  This CD supplies you with the "best bits" from the most requested concert hits.

Violin Sonatas
Bradywine Baroque
ISBN#8 88295 20206 0
If you want to "buy local," then we certainly hope you're adding support of local and regional musicians to your shopping cart!  Brandywine Baroque, based in Wilmington, DE, has an enviable critical acclaim and reputation for excellence in performance and in musicology.  Known for researching and performing works by the well known names of the Baroque era as well as the names that have been mostly forgotten, they are audience favorites and a reliable resource for your music collection.  Brandywine Baroque is supported in part by the Delaware Division of the Arts.

Sean Chen, piano
ISBN# 0 34062 30029 7
The repertoire on this CD was specifically chosen for being "of it's time."  Music that reflects both the appreciation of the beauty of the Romantic era, while looking ahead for new form and substance from the great changes going on in industry and life in the early 1900s.   Ravel's "Noble and Sentimental Waltzes" is the core of this CD, and the other works, by Ravel and Scriabin reflect this late romantic, early modern sensibility.   Sean Chen is a rising piano star, and in 2013 he won one of the most lucrative and significant prizes available to an american pianist:  The American Pianists Association's DeHaan Classical Fellowship.

We hope you enjoyed today's new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, July 10, 2015

JUST OPENED - July 10, 2015

 French works for trumpet and orchestra, Beethoven for pianoforte and violin, organ works, and urbane improvisations on the works of Chopin... all Just Opened!

BEETHOVEN Sonatas, vol. 1
Ian Watson, pianoforte
Susanna Ogata, violin
CORO 16138
ISBN# 8 28021 61382 1
My Delight of the Week!  Two "heavy-hitters" of historical music performance join forces in this first of a series of recordings of Beethoven sonatas for fortepiano and violin.  Both Watson and Ogata were appointed to positions with Boston's Handel & Haydn Society in 2014, Watson as Resident Conductor and Ogata as Assistant Concertmaster.  Watson is a big bear of a man - combine that with his world wide reputation as a keyboard soloist, and a forte piano, and we have a strong sense that this is how Beethoven himself sounded when he played.  Ogata plays an historic violin from 1772, and a bow from the period as well.  We can't get much closer to hearing these works the way Beethoven's audience would have heard them. 

Paul Merkelo, trumpet
Kent Nagano, cond.
Orch. Symphonique de Montreal
ISBN# 7 74204 98472 4
New works from the early to mid 1900s have rarely been this accessible.   Trumpet and orchestra works open the doors wide to the public, and the works on this CD by Tomasi, Desenclos and Jolivet are alternatively jazzy, noir-ish, intellectual, and playful.

Gail Archer, organ
ISBN# 8 88295 05731 2
Archer is an internationally renowned organist who performs an annual Concert series.  This CD grew out of the 2013 concerts, a celebration of works by female composers.  Archer is organist at Vassar College and Dir. of the music program at Barnard-Columbia Chorus.
Improvisations with Chopin
Deanna Witkowski, piano
ISBN#8 88295 17240 0
Jazz pianist Deanna Witkoski has said, "this is NOT jazzy Chopin."  Well, I respectfully demur.  It IS jazzy Chopin, but in the best possible way:  musically serious and literate, with merged references from modern composers, paired with her own new works that transition seamlessly with the Chopin works. It is clear that Witkowski knows and loves the works of Chopin, and with this CD she quite possibly has found a way to continue his popularity and expand it to a whole audience.

Join us again next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, June 26, 2015

Just Opened - June 26, 2015

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A high energy, brassy sassy mashup of the Gershwin songbook won the Tony Award for best orchestration this year, and the production won 3 other technical awards, and that kickstarted our music today on Just Opened.  The rarely performed, and much less rarely recorded etudes of (salon era favorite) Moszkowski are a sparkling highlight, with the luscious clarinet "songs" performed by Seunghee Lee and a true chamber mix performance headed by guitarist Marc Regnier.

Original Broadway Cast Recording
Winner of 4 Tony Awards, including Orchestrations
ISBN# 8 8875 091142 1
Playbill site for CD, reviews and more
A musical based somewhat on the beloved film "An American In Paris" that was based on the orchestral work by George Gershwin.  Broadway musicals reflect what is going on in commercial music, and the mash- up scene leaves it's mark in an inventive score that includes beloved songs with bits and pieces of other beloved songs from the Gershwin songbook.  As much of the story is set in a nightclub, the orchestrations have the brassy, jazzy feel of film noir club scenes.  The show has a lot going on - the story being told over the music at times, a stage full of characters, and the music reflects this mix in ways that are very fresh for a story and setting of the 1940s.

Esther Budiardjo, piano
PROPIANO #224536
ISBN# 7 81988 00362 6
For more information
My Delight of the Week!   It is rare to hear the etudes of Moritz Moszkowski played at all, much less played with excellence, and here we have the complete Book 1 & Book 2.  Known best for his popular salon works, many of the Book 2 works stand alone as lovely evocative pieces.   Brahm's Hungarian Dances start off the program of wide ranging emotion, exquisite technique and lush salon-era lyricism.

Seunghee Lee, clarinet
Arlene Schrut, piano
ISBN# 0 99402 27692 2
Speaking of lush - the buttery "vocals" of Lee's clarinet leave us breathless for more.  This CD features engaging works of enduring popularity.  Fantasies on Verdi's operatic themes topped sales charts in the Romantic era, and they have remained favorites, and here they are simply excellent.  While these fantasies were "pop" works, they are showpieces of technique and color.  The major work on the CD is Schubert's "Sonata Arpeggione," and the program is rounded out with favorites by Elgar and Rachmaninoff.

Solo and Chamber works
Marc Regnier, guitar
ISBN# 0 30911 17142 1
Regnier's official site
Gift-Giver's Delight!  This CD plays like a truly collaborative Chamber performance, led by Grammy nominated, Peabody Conservatory grad. Regnier.  The 4 artists on this CD take turns in solo works and a variety of pairings of accessible works, mostly with a latin rhythm - composers like Assad, Villa-Lobos, Almeida, Powell, and more.  This CD was on air when our on-air host volunteer walked in, and he immediately said, "Isn't this wonderful!"  We know that not everyone on our gift lists love classical music... and CDs like this make it easy to introduce "non-classical" folks to great works of international composers in melodic, toe-tapping cross-over pieces.

Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened, and
Thank you for your financial support of Delmarva Public Radio!
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, June 19, 2015

Just Opened June 19, 2015

Our usual varied sound stage of music today on Just Opened:  Orchestral Ballet Suites by Delibes, violin & piano "recital" CDs, Bach works for organ, and Tempesta di Mare's new release of Baroque "Theatrical" music.

Orchestral Music for the Theatre
by Lully, Marais, Rebel
Tempesta di Mare  (Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra)
ISBN# 0 95115 08052 8
My Delight of the Week!  Tempesta di Mare gets rave reviews internationally for their musicianship and audience pleasing programming.  In this the first of 2 CDs devoted to Baroque works for the theatre they have 3 "suites."

Organ works, vol. 1
Todd Fickley, Schnitger Organ
MSR 1561
ISBN# 6 81585 15612 4
A Classical Music collection can not find anything much more foundational than works for organ by J.S. Bach.  Fickley began his studies as a child at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and completed his studies with High Distinction in organ performance from the Universtiy of Wales.  Todd is a speaker, performer and conductor, including performances of the complete Bach cycle of organ works represented here.  He holds multiple conductor and organist positions, including the Choral Society back where he began, at the National Cathedral.

with  Keunyoung Sun, piano
ISBN# 8 88295 17308 7
A varied recital CD from the internationally performing violinist who studied at Juliard and Yale School of Music. He has been hailed for brilliant technique and poetry.  I would suggest a good listen to selections from this CD before purchase... the recording sounds as if it were recorded live, and has the "open" sound that can create.  Those who are sound quality purists might find that too distracting.

Sylvia / Coppelia
Martin West, cond.
San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
ISBN# 0 30911 11252 3
The infectious, enchanting ballet music from Leo Delibes 2 most popular and famous Ballets.   These "Suite" reductions of the complete ballets include all the stirring, rousing, lyrical, sweet, memorable melodies from these great scores. A perfect gift for the lover of great music whose collection has it all!  Highly listenable time and again.

Jean-Baptiste Muller, piano
JBM # 40665
No ISBN# available
Muller's official website
Schumann's major piano cycle "Kreisleriana" is featured on this CD, along with Chopin's Sonata No. 3.  The picture at left is for a DVD which features more works in addition, but the CD photo is a different cropping of this same picture.  Click on link to Muller's website for purchase and more information on this artist. This Swiss pianist has won competition awards in Germany, Italy and France.

Join us again next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, June 12, 2015

JUST OPENED - Friday June 12, 2015 - Kings of Music

This week on Just Opened, we have the newly released Broadway Cast Recording of "The King And I" - which just won the Tony Award last weekend for Best Musical Revival.  This new CD just arrived in stores on Tuesday, and it will fill our 3PM hour closing out today's show.

Another big winner of the night was the play "The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nighttime" and it's young lead actor, Alex Sharp (one year out of Julliard, but playing a 15 year old), so today we have a musical mirror... a Chopin release from 20 year old Jan Lisiecki who won a major piano competition at 14... winning from the junior division over the competitors in the senior division!  That  "Curious" play also features a strong ensemble cast that pull a lot of duties -- just like the members of the incredibly fun Quartetto Gellato, and we have their new CD today, too.  A new release of Saint Saen's beloved "King of Instruments" Symphony rounds things out!

2015 Broadway Cast Recording
Kelly O'Hara & Ken Watanabe
ISBN# 6 02547 37204 8
Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, it unites a long time Broadway star (O'Hara) with the major international heart-throb, Ken Watanabe in a production that remains faithful to the original, but is aware of modern sensibilities.  With the world-wide awareness of the place of women in many cultures, this classic remains startlingly relevant.

Jan Lisiecki, piano
D.G.  479 10399
ISBN # 0 28947 91039 -
Young piano phenomenon Jan Lisiecki was the focus of our weekend program "Collector's Corner" this past weekend.  His combination of natural talent and focused work is making him a major international concert draw as he turns 20 this year!  He plays the two etude opi with authority and nuance.   This is a great way to add basics to your music library, and also add a young performer who is clearly going to be a household name.

Quartetto Gelato
ISBN# 0 61297 45489 1
Multitalented, delightful, engaging musical performers, Quartetto Gelato have been part of our playlists for many years.   Their distinct sound is due largely to their replacement of the expected piano with the astonishing accordian playing of Alexander Sevastian.  Don't be put off by the fact that the works on this CD are all orignal.  QG are performers who know what an audience wants, and these new works are engaging, melodic, and easy to listen to again and again.  This is a chamber group that can take traditional concert works and make them relevant, fun, and exciting to listeners who say "I don't like "classical" music."   QG are proof that great music (and great musicians) are alive and well.

Symphony No. 3 "Organ"
Michael Stern, cond.
Kansas City Symphony
ISBN# 0 30911 11362 9
My Delight of the Week!  This perennial favorite work (with the closing movement hymn theme that was so movingly used in the film "Babe") features organist Jan Kraybill on "The King of Instruments."  The Symphony is the big finale on a program which begins with the logical opening work "Introduction and Capriccioso" which features violinist Noah Geller, and then cellist Mark Gibbs joins Geller for "La Muse et le Poete".   Poetry and power all from one Composer.   I especially like the way these selections allow different instruments to shine within the basis of an "orchestral wash."  This particular program presents an orchestral microcosm of why Camille Saint-Saens remains a major composer of beloved works.

Join us again next week, for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, June 5, 2015

Just Opened - Playlist basics Old & New

From Rameau to Mozart to Dvorak to Janacek - Baroque to Modern, and adding new works for guitar from a living composer... we bring you basics from every time period1

Pieces de Clavcin en Concert
Ensemble Baroque Nouveau
ISBN #0 30911 11182 3
Review and more info.
A rare recording of Rameau by an American ensemble.  Due to Rameau's re-use of melodies from his keyboard works into chamber works, they always have a familiar feeling, and this recording maintains the crispness of the solo works in a small chamber group of early instruments.  Each member of this ensemble is highly accomplished, their combined resumes amount to a "who's who" and a "what's what" of Early Music.

Sonia Rubinsky, piano
Virginia Luque, cond.
Moravian Philharmonic Olomuc
ISBN# 7 80742 21913 6
My Delight of the Week!  Incredibly talented guitarist/conductor Virginia Luque leads the Moravian Philharmonic in two delicious Mozart works, a Symphony and a Piano Concerto featuring Sonia Rubinsky.

DVORAK - Symphony 9
JANACEK - Jenufa Suite
Manfred Honeck, Dir.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
ISBN# 0 30911 27102 2
To purchase CD from Pittsburgh Symphony site.

Alan Rinehart, guitar
ISBN# 6 28855 00274 3
A pleasing combination of a few new works for solo guitar, along with many beloved traditional favorites from this established mature artist known as a teacher and music editor in addition to being a performer.  Rinehart has been recognized and performed at guitar festivals internationally in addition to studying lute in England.  The works on this CD are chosen to demonstrate the intimate, personal side of the guitar, and is dedicated to his wife.

Join us again next Friday for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell


The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Public Radio Delmarva, its staff, members, underwriters, Salisbury University, or the Salisbury University Foundation. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official.